This is what our July 2014 Autocar India road-test of Harley-Davidson’s bestselling, India-manufactured Street 750 stated, “The brakes engage progressively, but both levers need excessive pressure to derive adequate retardation, as both brakes lack powerful enough bite, more so at higher speeds. The Street 750 could have also done with ABS, being such a quick, powerful motorcycle to ride, and the absence of this is sorely missed.”
At the time, top Harley-Davidson management assured us that the lacklustre braking on the powerful motorcycle was duly noted, work was in progress, and all teething troubles on this, India’s first locally made large-capacity motorcycle would be swiftly addressed.
Around this same period, amongst others, widely respected US automotive specialist Cycle World voiced a similar concern:
It took a while, but to their credit, Harley-Davidson has now upgraded the brakes for the Street 750. The 2016 model Street does today offer upgraded brakes in India, that we’ve tested and confirmed work effectively to stop the fast motorcycle.
And what about existing Street 750s?
One would expect rectified brakes to spell cheer for early bird Street 750 customers already on the ‘streets’ too, astride pre-2016 bikes. However, this doesn't seem to be the case.
We recently received feedback from a disgruntled Street 750 owner in Delhi, Chirash Rupela, who wrote to us on behalf of several fellow Harley-Davidson customers, all of who feel similarly let-down. A deeper dig into the matter revealed several pre-2016 Street 750 owners in Mumbai, Pune, Hyderabad and Kolkata shared the same sentiment.
Quick checks with Capital Harley-Davidson in Gurgaon, as well as Two-Rivers Harley-Davidson, Pune tells us Harley-Davidson dealers are offering Street 750 brake upgrades, for which company parts can be ordered against an advance payout of an eye-watering Rs 60,000 or more, the alterations to be carried out after spare kits arrive.
Brake the bank
On the contrary, when contacted by Autocar India, Harley-Davidson India watered down the matter, providing a statement that doesn't thoroughly address the issue, as involves rider safety and warrants being a priority.
Here’s what the company spokesperson stated: “As part of its continuous improvement mindset and customer-led approach, Harley-Davidson makes changes in its line-up of new motorcycle models, with respect to previous year’s models, and this naturally has a price impact. There is a price revision between the 2016 Street 750 model as compared to the 2015 Street 750, as we made several design upgrades. We do not recommend attempting to retrofit 2015 Street models with 2016 Street-specific components, as there are system design differences between the two models.”
So where do customers stand, as dealers say one thing, and management at Harley-Davidson India quite another? At the tail end of it rides one loser, Street 750 customers, left only with two, both impractical choices; ride risking life and limb with inadequate brakes, or shell out a substantial sum of money for dealer provided upgrades that really deserved to be an overdue company replacement.
On the Street
Worldwide, we were the first and only publication to break the India-manufactured Street 750 story, months before the bike arrived, also first to correctly prophesise its bright future with our first pre-launch ride verdict:
“The Street 750 has what it takes to earn itself a coveted crown in India, to rise and become the largest selling big-bike here in the not so distant future.”
Yes, the Street 750 did rise to become India’s hottest selling big bike. All the more reason Harley-Davidson owes existing customers responsible solutions, keeping riders safe and shelving profits to ensure customers are not left to ride with dangerous, inadequate motorcycle brakes.